Saudi prince is buyer of world's dearest painting, Leonardo's Salvator Mundi

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a likely destination for the world’s most expensive painting Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a likely destination for the world’s most expensive painting Leonardo’s Salvator MundiCACACE AFP GETTY IMAGES

The announcement comes less than a month after the Louvre Abu Dhabi - the Paris institution's first outpost outside France - opened its doors. Salvator Mundi is next recorded in a 1763 sale by Charles Herbert Sheffield, the illegitimate son of the Duke of Buckingham, who put it into auction following the sale of what is now Buckingham Palace to the king.

Leonardo's Salvator Mundi became the world's most expensive painting when it sold at Christie's NY earlier this month where it fetched a premium-inclusive $450m.

The buyer's identity, reported by the New York Times this evening, was discovered in the midst of an investigation into Saudi Arabia's elite class, including Prince Bader's family and associates, who have been criticized for their showy displays of wealth.

A Saudi prince has been revealed to be the buyer of the world's most expensive painting, priced at $450 million.

It is believed the prince will be lending the Leonardo to the museum in Abu Dhabi.

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The newspaper said that the work will be lent or resold to museums, largely in the Middle East and Asia.

The most expensive work of art in the auction history will be exhibited at the Louvre in Abu Dhabi. To differentiate itself from neighboring Dubai, Abu Dhabi is targeting affluent tourists looking for culture and art and it has also built hotels, theme parks and malls. The new museum now houses a permanent collection of 600 artworks, with a further 300 on loan from Paris - among them another Leonardo painting, "La Belle Ferronnière".

Bidding was strong for the Leonardo da Vinci painting. As one of the seven sheikhdoms in the United Arab Emirates, and the one with the largest oil reserves, Abu Dhabi is entwined in a Saudi Arabian-led dispute with neighboring Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism. It was sold for just thousands in 2005 but was bought again in 2013 for $127.5 million by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev.

2011, saw the dramatic public unveiling of Salvator Mundi ('Savior of the World') in the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan, at The National Gallery, London.

The Salvator Mundi ("Saviour of the World") has been called ethereal, mysterious, spooky and touted as a long-lost painting by the Renaissance master.

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